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We Need to Talk About Debt

Know Your Money Market Research

In December 2018, Know Your Money commissioned an extensive survey to better understand the UK’s attitudes and understanding surrounding personal debt.

The UK’s debt landscape has dramatically changed over the last decade. While household debt isn’t exactly a new concept, debt charities have reported a significant shift in the levels of debt problems people now experience across the nation.

The results of this market research revealed some intriguing findings and indicated to us the real need to encourage people to talk more openly about debt and the best ways to manage it.

broader debt statistics in a feature you can read here: We Need to Talk about Debt. The feature provides useful information on who to talk to about debt as well as a bigger picture of personal debt in the UK. To build an initial overview of your personal debt position, you might find our debt-to-income calculator helpful.

For the full picture on the research we commissioned, we’ve provided the raw data below.

The research was conducted between Friday 7th and Tuesday 11th December 2018 among a sample of 2,008 UK adults. This was coordinated online via an independent market research partner, Opinium. The sample is certified as being nationally representative; meaning, the sample surveyed is an accurate representation of the UK population as a whole based on the age, gender, location and financial status of the respondents.

Opinium is a member of the Market Research Society (MRS) Company Partner Service, whose code of conduct and quality commitment it strictly adheres to. Also, its MRS membership means that it follows comprehensive guidelines regarding all phases of research, including:

  • Research design and data collection
  • Communicating with respondents
  • Conducting fieldwork
  • Analysis and reporting
  • Data storage

What type of debt do you UK adults currently have?


Type of debt


All

Male

Female

18-34

35-54

55+

Credit card


35%

18.23 million

36%

34%

28%

45%

32%

Mortgage


24%

12.50 million

24%

24%

24%

39%

11%

Student loan


11%

5.73 million

6%

15%

28%

7%

1%

Finance plan for a car


8%

4.17 million

10%

7%

9%

10%

6%

Bank loan


7%

3.65 million

8%

6%

7%

10%

4%

Finance plan for mobile phone


6%

3.12 million

5%

7%

7%

8%

3%

Personal finance loan


5%

2.60 million

6%

5%

5%

7%

4%

Finance plan for a piece of household furniture (bed, sofa, etc.)


5%

2.60 million

4%

5%

7%

6%

2%

Finance plan for a kitchen/household appliance (TV, dishwasher, etc.)

3%

1.56 million

3%

3%

5%

3%

1%

Alternative finance loan (peer-to-peer loan, debt crowdfunding)

1%

520,790

2%

1%

1%

2%

1%

Business loan


1%

520,790

1%

0%

1%

1%

0%

None – I have no debt


38%

19.79 million

40%

36%

29%

27%

55%

The survey was carried out between Friday 7th and Tuesday 11th December 2018 among a sample of 2,008 UK adults. The research was conducted online via an independent market research partner and the sample is certified as being nationally representative; meaning, the sample surveyed is an accurate representation of the UK population as a whole based on the age, gender, location and financial status of the respondents – it acts as a microcosm for the country.

What are people’s understanding of and attitude towards debt?

Questions asked to all those people who have one or more forms of debt (as uncovered in Question 1)

Question

All

Male

Female

18-34

35-54

55+


Do you know what the term ‘debt-to-income ratio’ means?


39% said no

37%

41%

45%

37%

36%

Do you know what your own debt-to-income ratio is?


44% said no

42%

46%

54%

40%

39%

Are you worried about the impact of Brexit on your personal finances?

48% said yes

46%

51%

52%

49%

43%

Do you avoid taking on debt whenever possible?


67% said yes

64%

70%

69%

66%

66%

Are you comfortable accruing debt when you need to and paying it off at a later date?

44% said yes

52%

38%

44%

46%

42%

Do you, from time-to-time, buy items on a credit card without considering how you will be able to pay it off?

33% said yes

34%

32%

34%

35%

27%

Do you feel in control of your debt and have a clear plan for how and when you will repay it?

29% said no

26%

32%

36%

30%

22%

Do you lose sleep over the amount of debt you have?


24% said yes

25%

24%

32%

26%

13%

As a safety net, do you have money in savings to pay off any short-term debt when needed?

67% said no

73%

62%

68%

62%

74%

Do you have clear financial plans for 2019 of where you will save, spend and invest your money?

48% said no

43%

52%

49%

50%

44%

Are you comfortable talking about debt with friends and family?

41% said no

38%

44%

38%

44%

41%

There are 52,079,000 adults in the UK. These gross population figures estimated here are calculated as a percentage proportion of the total UK adult population – for example, if 35% of the sample say they have credit card debt at present, this translates into 35% of 52,079,000 = 18,227,659. Such calculations can be reasonably made due to the size and nationally representative nature of the sample.
John Ellmore, Know Your Money

It’s vital that consumers understand their DTI ratio and manage their finances accordingly. Not only will this help them sleep easier at night, but it will also help ensure they avoid serious financial issues further down the line.

Find out more about your debt-to-income ratio